Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Murky green technology-enhanced learning

There's something that I've been mulling around in the back of my mind for a while now, and I think it would be useful now to take a look at it on the page.... As a learning technologist I've spent so long defending technology and it's ability to support and even improve education that I haven't often had the heart to look at the downsides from other perspectives. But increasingly I wonder if it's possible to reconcile my enthusiasm for technology with an environmentally friendly outlook. In the past (well lets say my parents' generation) kids would walk to school, then sit at their chairs and tables and the only resources to be consumed would be chalk and paper. Nowadays we don't have to travel to study and there are a number of other clear benefits,but what about the fact that we study on relatively disposable devices (this is my first personal laptop, but my third or fourth computer and my fifth mobile phone), as they greedily consume electricity? What is the environmental cost of the new digital style of education? I know so little about the energy and resources I'm consuming in my digital lifestyle, and how that compares with the past. How would I compare what seems like apples and oranges? Do I many pieces of paper would I need to burn in order to power my laptop for 8 hours? It's an area I'd like to know more about. In other words, other than recycling, turning off the lights and taking showers instead of baths, what can I do to become an eco learning technologist? And how do i know if I'm really making things worse or better on this account? Some ideas for improving my practice: Improve my consumer practice: Buy eco, dispose of carefully Use the sun or motion to power my tech? (I've heard this is a tedious and unreliable method to get juice for your devices)

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